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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders (Read 9544 times)
MNb
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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #79 - 12/13/18 at 09:33:53
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MNb wrote on 12/08/18 at 19:26:44:
Another important question is when exactly to play f2-f3. CbT gives 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2 O-O 6.O-O-O c6 7.Bh6 b5 8.f3 while I'd arrive via 4.Be3 Bg7 5.Qd2 O-O 6.O-O-O c6 7.f3 b5 (best move anyway - without this move Black can't develop sufficient counterplay) 8.Bh6. However iso 8.Bh6 White has an equally dangerous move, namely 8.h4 when h5 is best. With the bishop on f4 iso e3 the line has never been tried afaIk.


Confused_by_Theory wrote on 12/12/18 at 21:35:39:
If 8...h5 is best ....
Maybe the same idea can even work with the bishop on e3 also.

You're right: especially when starting the typical sacrificial attack with g2-g4 it might make a difference having the bishop on e3 or f4.
Other moves than 8...h5 allow White the very, very nice choice between playing h4-h5 at once or playing Be3(f4)-h6 transposing. That choice is denied to White when Black plays 5...c6 6.Bh6 O-O. And that again makes it important to look at other moves than 7.O-O-O.
Mover order here is important, all the more because there are no clear answers.
I'm looking forward to your posts about 4...c6, because it seems to me that it's here that the benefits of 4.Bf4 iso 4.Be3 become clear.
  

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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #78 - 12/12/18 at 21:39:47
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Hi.

4...c6 was the next thing to look at here. It will be a few days. As I recall we looked at this at some point though, so it shouldn't be horribly hard.

Have a nice day.
  
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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #77 - 12/12/18 at 21:35:39
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Hi.

MNb wrote on 12/08/18 at 18:05:36:
It should be noted that 5...O-O 6.Bh6 c6 is especially important because of 5...c6 6.Bh6 O-O.
Indeed.

MNb wrote on 12/08/18 at 19:26:44:
Another important question is when exactly to play f2-f3. CbT gives 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2 O-O 6.O-O-O c6 7.Bh6 b5 8.f3 while I'd arrive via 4.Be3 Bg7 5.Qd2 O-O 6.O-O-O c6 7.f3 b5 (best move anyway - without this move Black can't develop sufficient counterplay) 8.Bh6. However iso 8.Bh6 White has an equally dangerous move, namely 8.h4 when h5 is best. With the bishop on f4 iso e3 the line has never been tried afaIk.
If 8...h5 is best then something like this seems like easy initiative for white:
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2 0-0 6.0-0-0 c6 7.f3 b5 8.h4 h5 9.Nce2!? Nbd7
Other moves are similar.
10.g4 hxg4 11.Ng3!

Maybe the same idea can even work with the bishop on e3 also.

MNb wrote on 12/08/18 at 19:26:44:
More important is 8...Be6 (not mentioned by CbT) 9.h4 Qa5 10.h5 transposing to 8...Qa5. Black won in Jeras-Vavpetic, SLO 1996 with 9...Nbd7 10.Kb1 (10.h5!? but White had played Kb1 at an earlier stage) Nb6 11.h5 b4 12.Bxg7 Kxg7 13.hxg6 fxg6 14.Qh6+ Kg8 15.Nce2 (15.e5!?) Na4 but 16.Nh3 looks strong.
I Missed that move in the post. Did look at it though and I think both transposing to 8...Qa5 and the following looks good:
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2 0-0 6.0-0-0 c6 7.Bh6 b5 8.f3 Be6 9.Bxg7 Kxg7 10.d5
White seems better.

MNb wrote on 12/08/18 at 19:26:44:
8...Qa5 9.h4 (9.Kb1? Bxh6 10.Qxh6 Be6! Mola-Sarno, Arvier 2003) b4 10.Nb1 (no a7-a5-a4 here; not that White had a choice) and according to IM Vigus Ba6 is critical; CbT and I agree: 11.h5 Bxf1 12.Rxf1 Nbd7 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.hxg6 fxg6 15.Qh6+ Kg8 16.Nh3 Rf7 17.Ng5 Rg7 Ulbig-Mehlhorn, corr 2016, 18.f4 Nf8 is unclear (Vigus). CbT's 15.Nh3 is an attempt to improve; after Qxa2 16.Ng5 Kg8 (CbT) I suggest 17.Rh6!?
Another attacking idea is 11.Bxa6 (iso 11.h5) Nxa6 12.h5 Nc7 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.Ne2 Ne6 15.hxg6 fxg6 16.Qh6+ Kg8 17.Qh3 Tornow-Mehlhorn, corr 2017.

This also seems good. Compared to my 17.Re1 a bit more direct as well. Maybe easier overall.

Have a nice day.
  
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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #76 - 12/08/18 at 19:26:44
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Another important question is when exactly to play f2-f3. CbT gives 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2 O-O 6.O-O-O c6 7.Bh6 b5 8.f3 while I'd arrive via 4.Be3 Bg7 5.Qd2 O-O 6.O-O-O c6 7.f3 b5 (best move anyway - without this move Black can't develop sufficient counterplay) 8.Bh6. However iso 8.Bh6 White has an equally dangerous move, namely 8.h4 when h5 is best. With the bishop on f4 iso e3 the line has never been tried afaIk.
Black has two more options at move 8 (assuming White has played Bh6).

8...a5 9.h4 Nbd7 10.h5 a4 11.Bxg7 Kxg7 12.hxg6 fxg6 13.Qh6+ Kg8 14.e5 is a typical idea to decide the game.

More important is 8...Be6 (not mentioned by CbT) 9.h4 Qa5 10.h5 transposing to 8...Qa5. Black won in Jeras-Vavpetic, SLO 1996 with 9...Nbd7 10.Kb1 (10.h5!? but White had played Kb1 at an earlier stage) Nb6 11.h5 b4 12.Bxg7 Kxg7 13.hxg6 fxg6 14.Qh6+ Kg8 15.Nce2 (15.e5!?) Na4 but 16.Nh3 looks strong.

The two moves presented by CbT are the most important ones:

8...b4 9.Nce2 (I distrust 9.Nb1 because indeed the knight is misplaced here and Black hence can try a5!? as in Ginzburg-Scalise, Villa Martelli 2000) and the main line of my analysis runs Qa5 10.Kb1 Be6 (Black does amazingly well in practice) 11.Nc1 Nbd7 12.h4 (makes me kind of wish I'd played it on the 8th move) Rfc8 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.h5 Nxh5 15.g4 Nhf6 16.Qh6+ Kg8 Guido-Gaido, Montecatini Terme 1994, and I like 17.g5 Nh5 18.f4 Bg4 19.Be2 and White has his/her attack going.

8...Qa5 9.h4 (9.Kb1? Bxh6 10.Qxh6 Be6! Mola-Sarno, Arvier 2003) b4 10.Nb1 (no a7-a5-a4 here; not that White had a choice) and according to IM Vigus Ba6 is critical; CbT and I agree: 11.h5 Bxf1 12.Rxf1 Nbd7 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.hxg6 fxg6 15.Qh6+ Kg8 16.Nh3 Rf7 17.Ng5 Rg7 Ulbig-Mehlhorn, corr 2016, 18.f4 Nf8 is unclear (Vigus). CbT's 15.Nh3 is an attempt to improve; after Qxa2 16.Ng5 Kg8 (CbT) I suggest 17.Rh6!?
Another attacking idea is 11.Bxa6 (iso 11.h5) Nxa6 12.h5 Nc7 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.Ne2 Ne6 15.hxg6 fxg6 16.Qh6+ Kg8 17.Qh3 Tornow-Mehlhorn, corr 2017.

It's peculiar that Black apparently gets to decide whether White will play Nb1 (a pawn sacrifice already known by the Argentinean players who pioneered this variation via 4.f3 and 5.Be3) or Nce2. Often White will transpose after 8.h4 (iso Bh6) by playing Bh6 a bit later, but equally often the typical pawn sac 9.h5 is dangerous. It's not clear to me which is stronger and again the transposition 5...c6 6.Bh6 O-O plays an important role - can White postpone castling queenside? That might allow Donner's defense with ...e5 and ...Qe7 again.
  

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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #75 - 12/08/18 at 18:05:36
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It should be noted that 5...O-O 6.Bh6 c6 is especially important because of 5...c6 6.Bh6 O-O.
After 5...O-O 6.Bh6 Black has other moves and especially Bxh6 7.Qxh6 e5 deserves attention; as shown in Ree-Donner, NEDch 1967 Black's position is extremely hard to crack when the queen goes to e7. This is an underrated but very important defensive idea after Be3 (or Bf4 or Bg5) -h6, assuming that Black has castled.
Obviously 5...O-O 6.O-O-O c6 7.Bh6 Bxh6 8.Qxh6 e5?? and 7.f3 b5 8.Bh6 Bxh6 9.Qxh6 e5?? don't work.
  

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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #74 - 12/08/18 at 16:24:21
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Part 4: Castling - when our opponent does it we hope it's less good

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2
This again. But what if instead of 5...c6 black tries:

(A2) 5...0-0
Both natural and in some ways quite flexible move. No pieces or pawns have had their places determined. Black's hope is that he will know better what will be a judicious setup for him after he has seen one more move from white. While in a more general sense this can be part of good strategy castling actually gives white attacking possibilities. Starting at move six I recommend:
6.0-0-0 (Diagram)

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6.Bh6
Is another way of going about things. One of the main points is that
6...c6 7.h4
Is dangerous for black and pretty much forces him to go forego his most active plan involving moving the b-pawn due to:
7...b5 8.Bxg7 Kxg7 9.h5
White has good initiative despite not having done much for his position besides playing the typical hack moves.

Not a bad alternative overall really. Check John Shaw's book for more lines.

6...c6
After white's castling playing for an immediate c5 or e5 becomes problematic. This has made 6...c6 black's main way of handling the position.
7.Bh6
Of similar value appears to be 7.f3. Black can't really do much but accept the fact that he is going to be under some pressure on the kingside. Probably he should go 7...b5. The following radical way of playing would not be so dumb if it worked as intended; neutralising white's kingside chances before they even became something tangible. The problem is that white is not forced to play for hack attacks in order to disturb black's position.
7.f3 h5!? 8.Kb1! b5 9.e5 dxe5 10.dxe5 Qxd2 11.Bxd2 Ne8 12.f4 (+/=) White is better.
7.Kb1 b5 8.f3 Seems less flexible compared to 7.Bh6.
7...b5
Alternatives look problematic.

7...Qa5 8.h4! Bxh6 9.Qxh6 Ng4
9...b5 10.h5 Ng4 11.Qd2 (+/ - ) Black does not have enough compensation.
10.Qd2 c5 11.dxc5!?
11.f3 cxd4 12.Nd5!? Qxd2+ 13.Rxd2 Ne3 14.Nxe7+ Kg7 15.Ne2 Be6 16.Nxd4 Re8 17.Nd5 Bxd5 18.exd5 (+/ = ) Black is a pawn down for not much. Technically this should be good for white.
11...Qxc5 12.Nh3 Be6 13.h5 (+/ = ) With a good amount of positional pressure for white.

7...Bxh6 8.Qxh6 b5
8...Qa5 9.h4 Transposes to 7...Qa5.
8...Ng4 9.Qd2 b5; 9...Qa5 10.Nf3 Nd7 11.h3 Ngf6 12.Qh6 (+/ - ) Black has problems positionally.; 10.h4 b4 11.Nb1 Nf6 12.h5! Nxe4 13.Qh6 g5 14.Bd3 f5 15.Bxe4 fxe4 16.Qxg5+ Kh8 17.Nd2 (+/ - ) Black has an unenviable position.
9.e5!?
This becomes pretty forcing since black can not afford to have his pieces driven back. Instead:
9.f3 b4 10.Nb1 Transposes to 7...b5.
9...dxe5 10.dxe5 Ng4 11.Qh4! Qc7
11...Qb6 12.Ne4 Qc7 13.Nf3 Na6 14.e6 Bxe6 15.Nfg5 h5 16.h3 Nf6 17.Nxe6 fxe6 18.Ng5 Qa5 19.Kb1 Rad8 20.Be2 (+/ = ) With good positional compensation.
12.Nf3 Nxe5 13.Be2 Nxf3
This seems best. Instead:
13...a5 14.Ng5 h5 15.Qg3 f6 16.Nf3 Kh7 17.Rhe1 Ra7 18.Nh4 g5 19.Bxh5 Rg8 20.Nf3 (+/ = ) With some advantage for white in a slightly strange position.
13...Na6 14.Nxe5 Qxe5 15.Rhe1 Qc7 16.Bf3 Be6 17.Qh6 Rad8 18.Re4 Bf5 19.Rh4 g5 20.Qxg5+ Bg6 21.Rhd4 Rxd4 22.Rxd4 b4 23.Ne4 (+/ = ) White has better centralisation and less weaknesses.
13...Ng4!? 14.Ne4 f6!? 15.h3!? Ne5 16.Nxe5 Qxe5 17.Rhe1 Qc7 18.Nc3 a6 19.f4 (+/ = ) Since black has weakened his kingside and white is well placed with his pieces this will be good compensation.
14.Bxf3 Be6
14...Na6 15.Rhe1 Be6 transposes.
15.Rhe1 Na6
15...Nd7 16.Qxe7 Qf4+ 17.Rd2 Nb6 18.Re4 Qxh2 19.Rh4 Qe5 20.Bxc6 (+/ - ) White is a lot more active.
16.Qh6 Rad8 17.Re4 Bf5 18.Rh4 g5 19.Qxg5+ Bg6 20.Re1 (+/ = ) White should be somewhat better.

8.f3 b4

It is not obvious what is best here for black. A serious alternative exists in 8...Qa5. This was also the 2009 "Dangerous Weapons The Pirc And The Modern" recommendation.

8...Qa5 9.h4!
9.Kb1?! Bxh6 10.Qxh6 Be6 11.e5 dxe5 12.dxe5 b4 13.exf6 exf6 14.Nge2 bxc3 15.Nxc3 Nd7 (=) Black is OK.
9.Bxg7?! Kxg7 10.e5 dxe5 11.dxe5 Ng8 Neither side is greatly placed. Black should be about OK.
9...b4
I could find little better.

9...Be6 10.h5 b4 11.Nb1 Nbd7 12.Bxg7 Kxg7 13.a3!?
Maybe a bit simpler compared to 13.hxg6 in DW: Pirc Modern. Basically I am not really impressed by black's position and think white can play calmly.
13...Rab8 14.hxg6 fxg6 15.b3 (+/ = ) (Diagram)
White should be able to absorb active attempts by black. If he can play a long middlegame it looks to me like black will have more weaknesses to worry about.

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9...Bxh6 10.Qxh6 b4 11.Nb1 Ba6 12.Nh3!? Bxf1 13.Rdxf1 Qh5 14.Qd2 Nbd7
14...Qa5 15.h5 Nxh5 16.Qh6 f6 17.f4 Rf7 18.f5 (+/ - ) With great pressure for the pawn.
15.e5 dxe5 16.g4 Qxh4 17.Rfg1 h6 18.dxe5 Nxe5 19.Nf2 Nxf3 20.Rxh4 Nxd2 21.Nxd2 (+/ - ) There is not enough compensation.

9...Nbd7 10.h5 b4 11.Nb1 (+/ = ) As given by Vigus 2009 is a decent initiative for white.

10.Nb1 Ba6
It makes sense on a positional level to exchange the bishops like this and it is the mainline in DW: Pirc Modern. I have an idea of how to face it but before this is discussed it makes sense to note that there are quite a few alternatives; although most are quite bad.

10...Qxa2
Is not such an important pawn. I will give my mainline of analysis and refer to a future analysis file for more.
11.h5 Nbd7 12.g4 a5 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.hxg6 fxg6 15.Qh6+ Kg8 16.g5 a4 17.gxf6 Nxf6 18.e5 Nh5 19.Bd3 Qf7 20.Ne2 Bf5 21.Bxf5 Qxf5 22.Rdg1 Kh8 23.Ng3 Qf4+ 24.Qxf4 Nxf4 25.Nd2 (+/ - ) Black does not have full compensation.

10...Bxh6 11.Qxh6 Rd8?
DW: Pirc Modern p.21 This was briefly mentioned in DW: Pirc Modern but seems way to risky.
12.h5 Qxa2 13.g4 (+/ - ) Black will get crushed on the kingside.

10...Nh5 11.Ne2 Ba6 12.Bxg7 Nxg7 13.a3 Nd7 14.axb4 (+/ - )
10...Be6 11.h5 Transposes to 9...Be6

11.Bxg7
11.Nh3?! Bxf1 12.Rdxf1 Qxa2 (∞) White does not appear to have anything great even if he has his pieces positioned quite well.
11...Kxg7 12.h5 Bxf1 13.Rxf1 Nbd7 14.hxg6 fxg6 15.Nh3!
Not exactly caring about black's play and just getting an important piece in play. 15.Qh6+ is covered in DW: Pirc Modern and also looks good.
15...Qxa2
15...Kg8 16.Re1! e5 17.dxe5 dxe5 18.Rd1 (+/ - ) White is very much for choice.
15...c5 16.Ng5 Qxa2 17.Nxh7 Nxh7 18.Qh6+ Kf7 19.Qxh7+ Ke8 20.Qxg6+ Qf7 21.Qxf7+ Kxf7 22.dxc5 Nxc5 23.Nd2 (+/ - )
16.Ng5 Kg8 17.Re1 Nb6
17...e5? 18.Rh6 a5 19.Reh1 a4 20.Nxh7! a3 21.Nxf6+ Nxf6 22.Qg5 Qxb2+ 23.Kd2 Qxd4+ 24.Kc1 Qb2+ 25.Kd1 Qxb1+ 26.Kd2 Nxe4+ 27.fxe4 Rf2+ 28.Ke3 Re2+ 29.Kxe2 Qxc2+ 30.Ke3 Qc5+ 31.Kf3 Rf8+ 32.Kg4 Rf4+ 33.Kh3 Qe3+ 34.g3 Qxe4 35.Qd8+ Rf8 36.Rh8+ Kxh8 37.Qxf8+ Kh7 38.Rf1 Qf5+ 39.Rxf5 gxf5 40.Qxf5+ (+ - ) White wins.
18.b3 a5 19.e5 dxe5 20.Qd3 e4
20...a4 21.Rxh7! e4 22.Rxe4 Nxh7 23.Re6 Rf7 24.Rxg6+ Kf8 25.Ne6+ Ke8 26.Rg8+ Nf8 27.Qg6 (+ - )
21.Rxe4 Nbd5 22.Reh4 Rf7 23.Nxf7 Kxf7 24.Rxh7+ Ke6 25.Qxg6 (+/ - ) White is better in a strange position.

9.Nb1!?
White does somewhat misplace his knight and going 9.Nce2 might be stronger. Now it does look like black should invite white's queen though and that is in some ways potentially a bit risky.
9...Bxh6
9...Ba6 10.Bxg7 Kxg7 11.Qxb4 (+/ = )
9...Nbd7 10.h4 e5 11.Bxg7 Kxg7 12.dxe5 Nxe5 13.Qxb4 d5 14.Nc3 Be6 15.Nge2 (+/ - )
9...Qb6 10.h4 Nh5 11.Rh2 f5 12.Bc4+ d5 13.exd5 (+/ - )
9...Qa5 10.h4 Transposes to 8...Qa5.
10.Qxh6
Black, who has played a bit risky so far, now needs to play something smart and anticipate a white initiative. If he does not do this he risks losing quite fast. There are two moves.
10...Qc7!
10...Kh8!? 11.h4 Rg8 12.g4 (+/ = ) White should be a little better thanks to his space advantage. Play is very non-forcing so providing a clear projection of what play might look like seems hard.
11.h4 c5 12.Ne2 cxd4 13.Nxd4 Nc6 14.h5 (Diagram)
This looks like a good place to take stock of the position. Both sides will try to attack and if white wants something he probably needs to display some accuracy in the play to come.

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14...Ne5
14...Nxd4? 15.Rxd4 Nxh5 16.g4 Nf6 17.Rd2!? Qb6 18.e5 dxe5 19.g5 Nh5 20.Bd3 Bb7 21.Rxh5 Qg1+ 22.Rd1 Qxd1+ 23.Kxd1 Bxf3+ 24.Be2 Bxh5 25.Bxh5 gxh5 26.Qxh5 (+ - )
15.g4
Remarkably white's possibilities looks to be diminished if he plays even one slow move e.g.
15.Nd2?! 15...a5! 16.g4 a4 17.hxg6 fxg6 18.g5 Nh5 19.Rxh5 gxh5 20.Bc4+ Nxc4 21.Nb5 Qb7 22.Nxc4 b3 23.g6 e5 24.Nbxd6 Qg7 25.gxh7+ Kh8 26.Nf7+ Qxf7 27.Nxe5 Qf4+ 28.Qxf4 Rxf4 29.Ng6+ Kxh7 30.Nxf4 bxa2 (∞)
Black has two dangerous passers which collude to give him counterchances.
15...Bd7
15...a5 16.Bh3! e6 17.Qg5 Qd8 18.Qh4 gxh5 19.gxh5 Kh8 20.f4 Ned7 21.Bxe6 fxe6 22.Nxe6 Qe8 23.Nxf8 Qxf8 24.Rhe1 (+/ = ) White seems better, potentially much so, even if the position has not been totally resolved.
16.Nd2
Only now after black played a relatively slow last move does this knight come out.
16...Kh8 17.Bb5 Rg8
17...a5 18.hxg6 fxg6 19.Nc4 Nxc4 20.g5 Rf7 21.gxf6 Bxb5 22.Nxb5 Qc5 23.Rd5 Qe3+ 24.Qxe3 Nxe3 (+/=) May be preferable but still looks to lead to clearly worse endgames.
18.hxg6 fxg6 19.Kb1 a5 20.Bxd7 Qxd7 21.Nf1 a4! (Diagram)
It is important for black to do something before white gets his pieces in order.

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22.Ne3 a3
22...b3 23.cxb3 axb3 24.a3 Rg7 25.Nd5 (+/ - ) Changes to little.
23.b3 e6 24.Ng2!?
There are lots of interesting continuations here and a deep analysis might prove fruitful. I settled for this mildly mysterious knight move though, since it allows the queen to centralise.

24.f4 Is probably to direct.
24.Qh2 looks like an alternative, though I reckon the queen will get involved anyway.

24...Rg7 25.Qe3!? (+/=) (Diagram)

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Is a position where white keeps control and should likely be somewhat better. Black does have weaknesses and there there is quite literally lots of room for white to manouvre as the game goes on.

Have a nice day.
  
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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #73 - 11/29/18 at 05:40:06
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Hi.

MNb wrote on 11/29/18 at 04:57:18:
10.O-O-O still is a great find.
It made several of my days very nice!

Very nice even. Smiley

For me I too find it an uplifting find. Have yet to have the chance to play it though. Despite having gone something like 4.Be3, 4.Bg5, 4.Bf4, 4.Bg5 in my last (white) Pirc games. Some day... Roll Eyes

Have a nice day.
  
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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #72 - 11/29/18 at 04:57:18
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10.O-O-O still is a great find.
It made several of my days very nice!
  

The book had the effect good books usually have: it made the stupids more stupid, the intelligent more intelligent and the other thousands of readers remained unchanged.
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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #71 - 11/28/18 at 16:15:48
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Part 3: The mainline that got castled into, 7...Qa5 with 10.0-0-0

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2 c6 6.Bh6 Bxh6 7.Qxh6
Now making an active queen move is most popular by far and appears the second major variation to look at.
(A1B) 7...Qa5 8.Bd3 c5
This seems like the only attempt at equalising. Black can possibly develop some piece instead but white will be happy.
9.d5 Nbd7
Little else exists as decent alternative.
9...c4? 10.Bxc4 Qc5 11.Be2 (+ - ) Is a clear extra pawn, since tactics on f2 doesn't work without a knight on f3.
9...b5 10.Bxb5+ Nbd7 11.Qd2 Rb8 12.Bxd7+ Bxd7 13.Rb1 (+/ - ) Black does not look to have nearly enough compensation.
9...Bd7 10.0-0-0 is comfortable for white.
The following could perhaps be contemplated. Trouble is that white meets it much the same way as he does with 9...Nbd7.

9...a6!? 10.0-0-0! Ng4
10...b5 11.e5 dxe5 12.Nf3 Nbd7 13.Rhe1 (+/-)
10...Nbd7 11.Nf3 Ng4 12.Qg7 Rf8 13.e5 Ngxe5 14.Nxe5 dxe5? 15.Rhe1 Qb6 16.Ne4 Nf6 17.d6 Nxe4 18.dxe7 Kxe7 19.Qxe5+ Be6 20.Bxe4 (+/-)
11.Qg7 Rf8 12.Nf3! Nd7
12...Nxf2?! 13.Ng5 Nxd1 14.Rxd1 Bg4 15.Nxh7 Nd7 16.Rf1 O-O-O 17.Nxf8 Rxf8 18.h3 (+/-)
13.e5! Ndxe5 14.Nxe5 Nxe5 15.Rhe1 (+/-) (Diagram) White has very good compensation.

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If we go back to the main move 9...Nbd7. Many have realised that after the almost automatic 10.Nf3 there is the following trick:
9...Nbd7 10.Nf3 c4! 11.Bxc4 Qc5 12.Bd3!?
This square is not the only one available but alternatives are not obviously more threatening.
12...Qxf2+! 13.Kxf2 Ng4+ 14.Kg3!?
Again other squares are possible.
14...Nxh6 (Diagram)

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Instead of allowing this late middlegame with a let's squeeze something out attitude I prefer the more direct:
10.0-0-0!! (Diagram)

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This looks weird but is at the same time quite natural. The immediate tactical problems are sidestepped, white keeps flexibility with his knight and f-pawn (augmenting white's possibilities) and long castling also develops meaning black can't just meet it any which way.
10...b5!?
Others are not obviously sufficient so I think black might as well go for the most active.
10...a6 11.Nf3 b5
11...Ng4 12.Qh4 Nge5 13.Nxe5 Nxe5 14.f4 Nxd3+ 15.Rxd3 b5 16.Kb1 b4 17.Ne2 (+/ = ) to (+/ - ) Black faces no immediate danger. Also important though are positional factors and here black has the clear worst of it.
12.e5 dxe5
12...Nxe5?! 13.Nxe5 dxe5 14.d6! (+/ - )
13.Rhe1 Qc7
13...Qb6 14.d6 exd6 15.Ng5 Bb7 16.Be4 d5 17.Bxd5 Nxd5 18.Nxd5 Bxd5 19.Rxd5 O-O-O 20.Nxf7 Qe6 21.Nd6+ Kb8 22.Qd2 Nb6 23.Rexe5 Qf6 24.Ne4 Rxd5 25.Rxd5 Qh4 26.Re5 Rd8 27.Qg5 Qxg5+ 28.Nxg5 (+ - )
13...b4? 14.Nxe5 Nxe5 15.Rxe5 bxc3 16.Qg7 Rg8 17.Qxf6 (+/ - )
14.d6 exd6 15.Bxb5 Bb7 16.Bxd7+ Nxd7 17.Ng5 Nb6 18.f4 O-O-O 19.fxe5 dxe5 20.Rxd8+ Rxd8 21.Qxh7 (+/ - ) With pressure for white and definite black weaknesses.

10...Rb8 11.Bb5! a6 12.Bxd7+ Bxd7 13.e5! dxe5 14.Nf3 Bg4
14...b5 15.Nxe5 b4?! 16.d6 bxc3?! 17.Qg7 Rf8 18.dxe7 cxb2+ 19.Kb1 Kxe7 20.Rhe1 (+ - )
15.d6 Bxf3 16.gxf3 Qd8 17.Ne4 (+ - ) Black will almost certainly fall apart soon. He has no king safety, own play or rooks.

10...Ng4 11.Qh4 Nge5 12.f4 Nxd3+ 13.Rxd3 c4
13...Nb6 14.Nf3 Bd7 15.Nd2 f6 16.e5 O-O-O 17.a3!? (+/ - ) Black has a middlegame to look forward to that should be very much prospectless.
13...b5 14.e5 dxe5 15.d6 exd6 16.Nh3 f6 17.Rxd6 O-O 18.Rhd1 Nb6 19.a3 Bxh3 20.Qxh3 b4 21.Ne4 bxa3 22.bxa3 (+ - ) With quite dangerous threats for white.
14.Re3 b5 15.e5 dxe5 16.fxe5 Bb7 17.Nf3 O-O-O 18.a3 Nb6 19.d6! exd6 20.Ng5 Nd5 21.Nxd5 Bxd5 22.Rd1 h6 23.Rxd5 hxg5 24.Qg4+ Kb8 25.Qg3 dxe5 26.Rdxe5 Qd2+ 27.Kb1 Qd1+ 28.Ka2 Ka8 29.Re1 Qd7 30.Re7 Qd4 31.R1e5 Qb6 32.Rxf7 (+/ - ) With a fairly dominating position for white.

10...Nb6 11.e5 dxe5 12.Nf3 c4 13.Bxg6 fxg6 14.d6 exd6 15.Rxd6 Bd7 16.Qg7 O-O-O 17.Qxf6 (+/ - ) Should pose problems for black, who is not the best coordinated.

10...Ne5 11.Nf3 Nxf3 12.gxf3 Bd7 13.e5!?
3.Rhe1 O-O-O 14.e5 dxe5 15.Rxe5 e6 16.Bc4 exd5 17.Bxd5 Nxd5 18.Rdxd5 Bc6 19.Rxc5 Qa6 20.Qh3+ Kb8 21.Re1 (+/ = )
13...dxe5 14.d6 exd6 15.Qg7 Ke7 16.Bc4 Raf8 17.Rxd6 Kxd6 18.Qxf6+ Kc7 19.Nd5+ Kc8 20.Rd1 (+/ - ) With good activity and more than sufficient compensation for white.

11.Bxb5 Rb8 12.Bc6! (Diagram)

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This position is quite interesting. Black has given up a pawn but gained an open file towards the white king. Normally this would be enough compensation but to me it looks like back does not have much to back up his b-line pressure.
12...Kd8!?
This seems desperate although the alternative appears to be going for counterplay directly and this is not obviously a good strategy.

12...Ba6? 13.e5 dxe5 14.a3! (+/ - ) Black's pieces are pointing at to many different squares.
12...Rxb2 13.Kxb2 Qb4+ 14.Kc1 Qxc3 15.Ne2 Qa3+ 16.Kb1 Qb4+ 17.Ka1 Qxe4 18.Nc3 Qxc2 19.Nb5 Kd8 20.Rd2 Qf5 (+/ - ) Black is having quite severe coordination problems.
12...Qb4!? 13.Nf3! Qxb2+ 14.Kd2 Rb4 15.Rb1 Qa3 16.e5!? dxe5 17.Nxe5 Rd4+ 18.Nd3 Kd8 19.Nb5 Qa5+ 20.Kd1 Qxa2 21.Qc1 Nxd5 22.Rb3 (+/ = ) White should have at least slightly better chances.

13.Bxd7 Bxd7
Taking like this is probably necessary to diminish black's possibilities to activate his pieces in the most effective manner.
14.Nge2!
This seems like the most exact move. Directly going after b2 now is not so great. Instead:
14...Ng4! (Diagram)

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15.Qf4
15.Qh4 g5!?
15...f5 16.exf5 Qb4 17.b3 Bxf5 18.h3 Qa3+ 19.Kd2 Nf6 20.f3 Rb4 21.Qh6 Rg8 22.h4 (+/ = ) Is probably good for white as he has kept his extra pawn and has many ideas of how to kick away or nullify the effectiveness of black's pieces.
16.Qg3 h5!?
16...Ne5 17.b3 h6 18.Kb1 Qa3 19.Ka1 f5 20.f4 Nc4 21.Rb1 Nd2 22.Rbe1 fxe4 23.Nb1 Nxb1 24.Rxb1 (+/ = )
17.h4 Ne5 18.b3 Qa3+ 19.Kd2 g4 (∞) to (+/ = ) Again. This is hard to asses. White is up a pawn although it is not totally obvious what he should do to break out.
15...f5 16.b3 h6
16...fxe4 17.h3 g5 18.Qg3 Qa3+ 19.Kb1 Nf6 20.Qxg5 Rg8 21.Qe3 Rxg2 22.Nf4 (+/ = ) White looks a bit better. He targets e4, has fairly good pieces and is placed solidly enough to parry active attempts by black.
17.Qg3 fxe4 18.Nxe4 Qxa2 19.Qc3 Rf8 20.f3 Nf6 21.Nxf6 Rxf6 22.Kd2 Qa6 23.Rhe1 (+/ = ) (Diagram) Arguably white will be more comfortable in this late middlegame. He has good centralisation and not as many weaknesses as black.

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That was it. Mainly I have reposted analysis posted on chesspub earlier so nothing seriously fresh. A file will be posted later.
  
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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #70 - 11/12/18 at 09:48:39
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Part 2: 7...e5 with the critical 19...Nd4

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2 c6 6.Bh6 Bxh6 7.Qxh6 e5 8.Nf3 Qe7 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.Bc4 b5 11.Bb3 Nbd7 12.Ng5 Rf8 13.Nxh7 Nxh7 14.Qxh7 Nc5 15.Qh6 a5 16.a3 Be6 17.Bxe6 Nxe6 18.Qe3 0-0-0 19.0-0 Nd4! (Diagram)

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Black plans to go directly for f7-f5, maxmising the effect of already having a rook on f8 and hitting white at the earliest opportunity. There is now a threat to the c2 pawn so white has only two moves that make sense. I will take 20.Rac1 as mainline even though it may well be that it is more promising to go with the other rook (a move I'll cover as well). The plan behind Rfc1 would be to keep the a1 rook on a1 with the hope of giving extra punch to an eventual a4.
20.Rac1

20.Rfc1 f5 21.exf5 gxf5 22.Ne2 f4 23.Qh3+
23.Qe4 Nxe2+ 24.Qxe2 f3 25.Qe4 Qf6 26.Rd1 fxg2 27.Rxd8+ Rxd8 (+/ = ) to (=) For what it's worth white looks a little bit better, although making progress does not look given.
23...Ne6
23...Qe6?! 24.Qxe6+ Nxe6 25.Rd1 Kc7 (+/ = ) It's not going to be easy to convert but white looks a little better here with no queens on and a clear extra pawn.
24.Rd1 Rde8! (Diagram)

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Black's piece arrangement looks mildly weird now but ok... The idea should be something like that by setting up compactly black gets chances to decide when and how he starts attacking white's kingside. White now has quite many attempts but most look possible to defuse for black. If black wanted to force play he could have tried:
24...f3 25.Nc3 Rxd1+ 26.Rxd1 fxg2 27.Ne4 Kb8 (+/ = ) Which looks less solid to me. Crucially though, it looks to give white to well placed pieces for black to be able to aspire for equality.

25.c4

25.a4 b4 26.Nc1 e4 27.Nb3 f3 28.g3 e3 29.fxe3 Qg5 30.Rd2 Qxe3+ (=) With counterplay.
25.Qf3 Kb7 26.b4 axb4 27.a4; 27.axb4 Qxb4 (∞) I can't see a way through for white.; 27...e4 28.Qxe4 Nc7! 29.Qxe7 Rxe7 30.Nc1 c5 31.Nd3 Kc6 (∞) Black's activity compensates the pawn deficit.
25.Nc3 Kb8 26.a4 Nd4 27.axb5 Rh8 28.Qd3 Qh4 29.h3 Reg8 (∞) Is counterplay.
25...f3 26.Ng3 Kb8 27.cxb5 cxb5 28.Rd5 Nd4 29.Qh6
29.Rc1 Qg7; 29...Rd8!? 30.Rxd8+ Qxd8 31.Qh6 Rf7 32.gxf3 Nxf3+ 33.Kh1 Qd5 34.Qb6+ Rb7 35.Qc6 Rh7 36.Nf1 Qxc6 37.Rxc6 Kb7 38.Rc1 Kb6 39.Kg2 e4 (=) to (+/ = ) Black should be able to hold.; 30.Rcc5 Rd8 31.Rxd4; 31.Rxb5+ Nxb5 32.Rxb5+ Kc7 33.gxf3 Qf7 34.Rc5+ Kb6 35.Rc3 Rh8 36.Qg4 Rd1+ 37.Kg2 Rd4 38.Qf5 Qxf5 39.Nxf5 Rg8+ 40.Ng3 (=) I Don't see how any side can win with accurate play.; 31...Rxd4 32.Rxb5+ Kc7 33.gxf3 Qf7 34.Rc5+ Kb8 35.Rc3 e4 36.Qf1 Qd7 37.Qe2 Rd1+ 38.Kg2 exf3+ 39.Rxf3 Rxf3 40.Qxf3 Rd4!? (=) Black should not be worse objectively.
29...Rf6 30.Qe3!? Qe6 31.Rc5 fxg2 32.Rd1 Kb7 33.b4
33.a4 Qg4 34.Rxd4 Qxd4 35.Rxb5+ Kc7 36.Qc1+ Rc6 37.Qg5 Rb6 38.Rxa5 Rxb2 (∞)
33.Ne4 Qg4 34.Rxd4 exd4 35.Rxb5+ Ka6 36.Rxa5+ Kxa5 37.Qd2+ Ka6 38.Qd3+ Kb7 39.Qb5+ Ka7 40.Qxe8 Qd1+ 41.Kxg2 Qf3+ 42.Kf1 Qd1+ 43.Kg2 Qf3+ 44.Kf1 Qd1+ 45.Kg2 (=)
33...Ka6 34.Qe4 Qa2 35.Nf5 Qe2 36.Qxe2 Nxe2+ 37.Kxg2 Nf4+ 38.Kf1 Rxf5 (=) Is not worse for black even if white's rooks will get active.

20.Rac1 f5 21.exf5
21.f3 Rf6 22.Nd1 f4 23.Qe1 Qc5 24.Nf2 a4 25.Nd3 Nxf3+ 26.Kh1 Rxd3 27.cxd3 Nxe1 28.Rxc5 Nxd3 29.Rc2 c5 (=) The strong knight should offer compensation.
21.Ne2 f4 22.Qh3+ Qd7 23.Qd3 f3 24.Nxd4 Qg4 25.Nxf3 Rxd3 26.Nxe5 Qxe4 27.Nxd3 Qd4 (∞) I am not sure how to assess this.
21...gxf5 22.Ne2 f4 23.Qh3+
23.Qe4 Nxe2+ 24.Qxe2 f3 25.Qe3
25.Qe4 Kb7 (=) Black's control over the lines combined with his f3 pawn being highly useful means he seems to have compensation.
25...Qh4 26.Qb6 Rf6 (=) Perpetual check seems a likely outcome.
23...Ne6
23...Kb7 24.Nxd4 Rxd4 (+/ = ) Black has not gotten in f3.
23...Qe6 24.Qxe6+ Nxe6 25.f3 Seems (+/ = ) - esque
24.Rcd1
24.Rfd1 f3 25.Nc3 Rde8 26.a4 fxg2 27.Ne4 Kb8 28.Qc3 Nd4 29.Qxa5 Qc7 30.Qxc7+ Kxc7 31.Kxg2 Rf4 32.Nc5 Rg8+ 33.Kf1 Rfg4 34.Ke1 Rf4 35.axb5 Rg1+ 36.Kd2 Rxf2+ 37.Kd3 Rxd1+ 38.Rxd1 Rxh2 39.c3 Nxb5 (=) Black is OK.
24...f3 25.Nc1
25.Nc3!? Rde8! 26.Rfe1 Kb8 27.Qg4 Qf7 28.g3 Rg8 29.Qe4 Nd4 30.Re3
30.h4 Qh5 31.Kh2 Rg4 32.Rxd4 Rxe4 33.Rdxe4 (∞)
30...Qh5 31.Rxd4 exd4 32.Qxd4 Rxe3 33.Qb6+ Ka8 34.Qxc6+ Kb8 35.fxe3 f2+ 36.Kf1 Qh3+ 37.Qg2 Qh6 (Diagram) (∞) Both sides have dangerous play

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25...fxg2
25...Rde8 26.Rfe1
26.g3 Qg7 27.Rfe1 Kc7 28.Qf1 Nf4 29.Nd3 Ne2+ 30.Rxe2 fxe2 31.Qxe2 e4 32.Nc5 e3 (∞) With play for black.
26...Qf6 27.Nd3 Rh8 28.Qxf3 Qxf3 29.gxf3 Nd4 30.Re3 Nxc2 31.Rxe5 Reg8+ 32.Kh1 Rh3 33.Re4 Rgh8 34.Kg1 Rxh2 35.Rd2 Na1 36.Nc5 Rh1+ 37.Kg2 Rc1 38.Ne6 Nb3 39.Rd6 Rhh1 40.Rxc6+ Rxc6 41.Kxh1 Rc2 42.Kg2 (+/ = ) It's hard to say if white will win but he seems better.
26.Rxd8+ Kxd8 27.Rd1+ Kc7 28.Qe3 Qc5 29.Nd3
21.Qxc5!? is similar but the pawn is kept on f2.
29...Qxe3 30.fxe3 (+=)
White is a little better since he will soon be a pawn up. This is not the end of the story though as there will be a considerable technical task.

Analysis file will be found in later post.
  
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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #69 - 11/12/18 at 08:18:50
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Hello.

RdC wrote on 11/10/18 at 23:33:21:
Confused_by_Theory wrote on 11/10/18 at 21:50:14:
4.Bf4 analysis part 1: Apparently solvent play (7...e5)


6.Bh6!?


There's going to be a lot of games with this because it can arise from positions where White has played Be3 or Bg5

Yer. As long as black allows 6.Bh6 it seems like a useful move for a decent amount of people.

Even for London-system players in fact; which in itself means it's useful to almost everybody out there.

Have a nice day.
  
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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #68 - 11/11/18 at 16:07:20
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12.O-O iso 12.Ng5 in the main line is what attracts attacking players like me.
  

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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #67 - 11/10/18 at 23:33:21
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Confused_by_Theory wrote on 11/10/18 at 21:50:14:
4.Bf4 analysis part 1: Apparently solvent play (7...e5)


6.Bh6!?


There's going to be a lot of games with this because it can arise from positions where White has played Be3 or Bg5
  
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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #66 - 11/10/18 at 21:50:14
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4.Bf4 analysis part 1: Apparently solvent play (7...e5)

(A) 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Bg7
By far the main move. Also very natural if white can't (probably somewhere in the early middlegame) draw benefit from black having put the bishop where it can be threatened by Bh6. In practice White players have mostly gone 5.Nf3 now. It puts a negligible amount of direct pressure on black though. Since black will meet it with some developing move of his own both sides will have gotten a move to improve their position. Relatively speaking this probably benefits black slightly as he is the one who needs to get his position in order more acutely than white. Had the knight move opened up new avenues to put positional pressure on black the picture could have been nicer for white, although it does not appear to do that to a great extent.

Castling for black seems alright e.g. 5.Nf3 0-0 planning 6.Qd2 c5. From what I can tell black can also try 5...Nc6 as long as he is aware of the following sequence; where white essentially does not get anywhere:
5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Qd2 Bg4 7.d5 Bxf3 8.dxc6 Bxe4 9.Nxe4 Nxe4 10.Qb4 Nc5 11.cxb7 Rb8 12.Bb5+ Kf8 13.Bc6 Nxb7 14.Bxb7 c6! (Diagram)

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Instead of the knight move...
5.Qd2!
Appears more dangerous. White's plan is to retain more flexibility and disturb black with Bh6 early. Black has:

A1) 5...c6
A2) 5...0-0

Others:
5...Nc6 will be covered in another move order.
5...a6?! 6.Bh6 0-0 (6...Bxh6 7.Qxh6 Nc6 8.0-0-0 += ) 7.0-0-0 Nc6 (7...b5 8.f3 += Is just more comfortable for white) 8.h4 Bxh6 9.Qxh6 e5 10.d5 Nd4 11.h5! (+=) With positional pressure
5...Nbd7?! 6.Bh6 Bxh6 7.Qxh6 e5 8.Nf3 += With no immediate disaster for black, though also a somewhat prospectless position
5...b6? 6.Bh6 0-0 7.h4! (+/-) When black has played a sub-optimal move like b6 the pawn thrust seems effective.

(A1) 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2 c6!?
A versatile move in the Pirc. Black prepares b5 in order to possibly seize space and disturb white's important c3 knight. He can also sometimes decide to continue Nbd7 and e5, a bit depending on what white does. Other positive effects of the move is that the queen gets squares on a5, b6 or c7 and that should e4-e5 come from white black can now often go Nf6-d5 and this is generally a good square.
6.Bh6!?
Other moves have been tried e.g. 6.Nf3 and 6.0-0-0. They keep some control but going Bh6 right away has the big advantage that castling as a reply is probably made less attractive. Black has two replies. they lead to very different types of play.
6...Bxh6
6...0-0 is quite serious. I recommend 7.0-0-0 but will cover this under a 5.0-0 move order later. Instead capturing is the only move apart from castling and also recommended by some sources.
7.Qxh6
Black now has to decide how to pursue both development and own play. There two serious choices that lead to different types of positions:

A1A) 7...e5
A1B) 7...Qa5

Originally I took the queen move as mainline and made a heck of a long comment about 7...e5, before continuing to give more moves after the queen move. I think now that giving these two variations separately is better. They are different and in both there is an extensive body of positions to check, meaning there is no lack of material for either move. This post will details how I think white sould play after 7...e5, while 7...Qa5 will be covered in a separate post after.

(A1A) 7...e5


This has been discussed a fair bit on chesspub. Black strikes back at d4 and hopes for simplification via dxe5 or if there is tension some undermining action with Bg4. Noteworthy is that 7...e5 appears to be the way to execute since 7...Nbd7?! looks weaker. The Bg4 resource is missing and black should not get anywhere with what little counterplay he has e.g.

7...Nbd7?! 8.Nf3 e5 9.Be2! Qe7 10.0-0 exd4!? 11.Nxd4 Ng8 12.Qf4 Ngf6 13.Rad1(+=) White looks more comfortable.

My suggestion against 7...e5 is to play the way described below. Given is only what I think are the most important lines. An analysis file will be made available with more extensive coverage:

8.Nf3 Qe7
To keep Bg4 as a possibility. 8...exd4 9.Nxd4 Qe7 10.Be2 (+/-) is good for white
9.dxe5
I also (now) see some danger for black in the following attempt:
9.Bc4!? exd4 10.Nxd4 d5 11.Be2! Nxe4 12.Nxe4 dxe4 13.0-0-0!? Nd7 14.Rhe1 Nc5 15.b4! Nd7 16.Bd3 f5 17.f3 Ne5 18.Bxe4 fxe4 When, after some exact move from black it has to be said, there is nothing obvious for white. He can always play on a bit though. Going instead 11.Bb3, which I briefly looked at and gave in a previous effort at analysing the 7...e5 lines, is just clearly weaker compared to 11.Be2. With the latter move there are dangers to navigate for black, while the former seems unimpressive. Not going for the more open positions after 9.Bc4!?, aiming instead for some pressure in the at least slightly symmetrical looking positions after pxp seems more attractive to me.
9...dxe5 10.Bc4 b5
10...Nbd7 is surprisingly resilient and is not obviously so much worse than 10...b5. I will recommend:
11.0-0
11.Ng5!? Rf8 12.Nxh7 Nxh7 13.Qxh7 Qg5 14.h4 Qf6 15.Qh6 Rh8 16.Qe3 Rxh4 17.0-0-0 Nf8 (+=) Still leaves black fairly solid but white is a little more comfortable.
11.a4 Nb6!? 12.Bb3 Be6 13. a5 ;13.Bxe6 Qxe6 14.0-0 (= to +=) ; 13...Nc4 14.0-0 0-0-0 (+= to ∞)
11...Nb6 12.Bb3 Be6 13.Rfd1 Bxb3 14.axb3 (+=) White is a little more comfortable.
11.Bb3 Nbd7 (diagram)

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This is a major branching point. The other line is if black goes for advancing the a-pawn forward immediately. Compared to moving the knight to d7 the immediate advantage of 11...a5 is that black is a bit more active. If white meets it correctly it does also seems a bit like making multiple pawn moves on the queenside (a5 will be followed up by more) is maybe not strategically optimal though. My main line now would be either move with the a-pawn. But it took me some time to evaluate both options.

At first I thought (11...a5) 12.a4 was about equally strong compared to moving the pawn forward one step. Then I found this nice sequence and it looked like Black was fine:
12.a4 b4 13.Nb1 Nbd7 14.Nbd2
14.Ng5!? Rf8 15.Nxh7 Nxh7 16.Qxh7 Qg5!? 17.Nd2 Nf6 18.Qg7 Ke7 19.h4 Qxg2 20.O-O-O Qg4 21.h5 gxh5 22.Qh6 Qf4 23.Qxf4 exf4 May be a small += but black's somewhat ugly position shouldn't be so bad.
14...Ba6 15.Ng5 Rf8 16.Nxh7 Nxh7 17.Qxh7 Qg5!
17...0-0-0 18.Qh3 Kc7 19.0-0-0 Nc5 20.Qe3 Rd4 21.Ba2 f5!? 22.exf5 gxf5 (∞ to +=) Seems like the alternative, but white could maybe find some exact way forward here. Instead after the queen move.
18.Qh3 Nc5 19.0-0-0 Rd8! 20.Qg3 Nxb3! 21.cxb3 Qxg3 22.hxg3 Ke7 (= to +=) I think black has good holding chances.

An addition to this though is that for a while I likely underestimated the continuation below. It looked like it needlessly dropped a central pawn. This is not really so bad though and white should have serious chances for advantage:

12.a4 b4 13.Nb1 Nbd7 14.Nbd2 Ba6 15.Bc4! Bxc4 16.Nxc4 Qc5
16...Nxe4? 17.O-O-O Nxf2 18.Rxd7 Qxd7 19.Re1 Qe6 20.Nfxe5 Rd8 21.Qg7 Rf8 22.Qxh7 (+/ - ) Despite having netted a central pawn earlier it does not seem like black has been successful in defusing white's pressure.
17.Nfd2 Qxf2+ 18.Kxf2 Ng4+ 19.Ke2 Nxh6 20.Nb3 Ke7 21.Nbxa5 Ra6 22.Nb3 (+/ = ) It looks hard to organise the black position. White seems fairly easily better.

I was also always pleased with the more modest 12.a3 and would perhaps slightly prefer it anyway:
11...a5!? 12.a3! Ba6 13.Ng5 Rf8 14.Nxh7 Nxh7 15.Qxh7 a4 16.Ba2 b4 17.axb4 Qxb4 18.Qh3 (+=) And things seem good for white. Black's counterplay isn't so threatening.

12.Ng5 Rf8 13.Nxh7 Nxh7 14.Qxh7 Nc5 15.Qh6
Somewhat surprisingly considering black pretty much having played a passive setup I don't think white has much leeway to experiment. If he wants an advantage I would recommend playing exactly these last couple of moves. For alternatives see the analysis file.
15...a5 16.a3 Be6!
Critical. The weakening of support for the b3 bishop means white almost has to exchange on e6 and then, even if black is still a pawn down, he at least has a very good knight. Taking the bishop directly does not work so well with the queen ready to come back e.g.
16...Nxb3?! 17.cxb3 Be6 18.Qe3 f6 19.Qb6 Rc8 20.Qxa5!? Kf7 21.Qb6 Bxb3 22.O-O Rfd8 23.Qe3 (+/ = )
There is also:
16...Ba6 17.Rd1 Nxb3
17...Rd8 18.Qe3 Rxd1+ 19.Kxd1 Rh8 20.Ba2 Bc8 21.Kc1 Kf8 22.Nb1 Kg7 23.Nd2 (+/ = )
17...b4 18.axb4 axb4 19.Ba4 Nxa4 20.Nxa4 Bb5 21.b3 Rg8 22.g3 (+/ = )
18.cxb3 b4 19.axb4 axb4 20.Na4 Bb5 21.Nb6 Rd8 22.Qe3 Rxd1+ 23.Kxd1 Rh8 24.Kc2 Qf8 25.h3 (+/ = ) White is somewhat better.
17.Bxe6 Nxe6 18.Qe3 0-0-0
18...Nd4!? 19.Rc1 0-0-0 20.Ne2!? Qc5 21.Nxd4 Qxd4 22.0-0 Kc7 23.Qe1!? (+=) Seems better for white.
19.0-0!? (Diagram)

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White has a serious alternative to castling that perhaps is even a bit more simple to play and understand. It also leads to pawn up positions although ones where I think there should not necessarily be good chances to make something out of this. Here are some lines:

19.Qb6!? Qc7 20.Qxc7+ Kxc7 21.Rd1
Probably best. I could not find anything special in other continuations e.g.
21.f3 Nf4 22.Rg1 Rh8 23.h3 f5! 24.Rd1 b4! 25.axb4 axb4 26.Rxd8 Rxd8 27.Ne2 fxe4 28.fxe4 b3 29.Nxf4 exf4 30.Ke2 bxc2 31.Rc1 Rb8 32.Rxc2 Rb3 (=) Black should have enough compensation because of his active rook.
21.Ne2 Nd4 22.Rc1 Rd6 23.Ng3 b4 24.h4 Rfd8 25.Nf1 b3 26.cxb3 Nxb3 27.Rb1 Nc5 28.Ne3 Nxe4 29.h5 gxh5 30.Rxh5 Nc5 31.Kf1 Nd3 32.Rf5 f6 (=) Black is OK.
21...b4 22.axb4 axb4 23.Ne2 b3
23...Nc5!? 24.f3 b3 25.Rd2 bxc2 26.Nc1 Ne6 27.Rxc2 Rd4!? (=) to (+/ = ) This seems to be a safe pawn up kind of position for white. At the same time making use of this extra asset is highly problematic and black has very good pieces. I think black should hold.
24.Rd2 Ra8 25.cxb3 Nc5 26.O-O Nxe4!? (=) to (+/ = ) Black is just marginally worse. (Diagram)

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19...Nd4!
Now is the correct time for this move. Black gets chances to hold the position thanks to general activity and possibilities to make pawn advances against white's still not amazingly developed position. Analysis of this will follow in the next post (character limit nearing).

There are less good alternatives also e.g.
19...Rd6 20.Rad1 Rfd8 21.Rxd6 Qxd6 22.h3 Nd4 23.Rc1 Kb7 24.Kh2 f5!? 25.exf5!? gxf5 26.Ne2 (+=)
There are probabbly some difficulties remaining for black -pawn down but with reasonable activity to navigate.

More to follow soon. Enjoy!
  
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Confused_by_Theory
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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #65 - 11/10/18 at 21:42:49
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Hi.

Okay. So I will make an effort with 4.Bf4 analysis in the coming week. There was some match or something that made me take out a couple of vacation days anyway. Since last post I have quietly looked again at our favourite 7...e5 continuation and checked some (hopefully promising) paths against black castling on move five or six. Now what is going to happen is I will start posting stuff; although for reasons of pure evil I think I will do it piece by piece in some manner. So expect a post of content once every few days at best. Having already thought a bit about structure as well and this is probably how everything will be presented:

Post 1: The apparently solvent 7...e5 (excluding 19...Nd4)

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2 c6 6.Bh6 Bxh6 7.Qxh6 e5

Post 2: The critical 7...e5 with 19...Nd4
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2 c6 6.Bh6 Bxh6 7.Qxh6 e5 8.Nf3 Qe7 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.Bc4 b5 11.Bb3 Nbd7 12.Ng5 Rf8 13.Nxh7 Nxh7 14.Qxh7 Nc5 15.Qh6 a5 16.a3 Be6 17.Bxe6 Nxe6 18.Qe3 0-0-0 19.0-0 Nd4!

Post 3: The mainline that got castled in to 7...Qa5 with 10.0-0-0
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2 c6 6.Bh6 Bxh6 7.Qxh6 Qa5 8.Bd3 c5 9.d5 Nbd7 10.0-0-0

Post 4: Castling - when our opponent does it we hope it's less good
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2 0-0 6.0-0-0 c6 7.Bh6
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2 c6 6.Bh6 0-0


Post 5: Compact c6 play
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 c6

Post 6: Keeping creative types in check - 4..Nc6 and others
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Nc6 (4...Nbd7, 4...a6, 4...e6, 4...Na6)

Feel free to comment and as always have a nice evening!
  
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